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Requiem: Raymond Walter Hodges

(d 11 November 2003)

Oh it ain't gonna rain no more, no more
It ain't gonna rain no more;
So how the heck will I wash my neck
If it ain't gonna rain no more?

I have the songs he sang running through my head.
I can hear his voice singing them.
I won't be able to hear that any more.

Peanut on the railway track
The engine gave a squeal
The guard took out his pocket knife
And scraped him off the wheel

I can remember his "crow" swooping down to catch my nose
Can remember talking to him about growing vegetables.
I would have loved to talk with him about the vegetable patch I'm planning now.
I can remember him teaching me to prune roses.
I can remember myself, remembering him as I pruned the roses at home.
That abiding love for all things that grew.
The care he put into his garden.

Oh it ain't gonna rain no more no more
It ain't gonna rain no more
So how the heck will I wash my neck
If it ain't gonna rain no more?

He had a good singing voice, rich and clear.
He carried the tune well.
Carried the tune like he carried his faith, his belief -
It was just there inside him, not something he spoke about.
Something he shared with others, but mainly in a way they could understand.
He didn't force it on me.
I always liked that.

The peanut stood on the railway track
His heart was all a flutter
Along came the nine-fifteen express
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter!

Now he's gone.
I won't ever hear him sing again.
I won't see him walk through his garden.
I won't hear him telling the stories again.

He'll live on, though.
He lives on in my memory.
In the memories of my brother, my cousins.
My mother, my aunt, my uncle.
I can remember him as the younger man he once was, not the frail man he became.
I can remember him when there was still that spark of life in him.
He taught me so much
Not just songs, and pruning, and the way vegetables and flowers grow
But other things
How to hold to a belief so strongly it doesn't let you go
How to do this without wanting to push it out to others
How stories go, and how good stories go.
He always had the best stories.
He could always make me laugh.

He was a dowser
He saw the path of the water beneath the rock
Saw the ways of the land and the stream.

He was a dreamer
He saw the world beyond in dreams.

He was all of this and more.
I will not forget him.

It ain't gonna rain no more, no more.
It ain't gonna rain no more.
How the heck will I wash my neck
If it ain't gonna rain no more?

Rest well.

Raymond Walter Hodges (1910 - 2003) was my maternal grandfather. I read this at his funeral.

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